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by Herman Leonard
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  • Author:
    Herman Leonard
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    Bloomsbury USA (October 26, 2010)
  • Pages:
    320 pages
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Excellent collection of some of Herman Leonard's best work Brings back fond memories of smoke-filled jazz lounges

Excellent collection of some of Herman Leonard's best work Brings back fond memories of smoke-filled jazz lounges. This book contains many of the first images that Herman produced after he came out of retirement in the 70s. They represent a magnificent example of the astonishing ability of Herman to print difficult negatives and create a masterpiece out of what for most others would be a reject. There was never a doubt that Herman was the great capturer of 'the perfect shot' but this, combined with his sheer darkroom skills and ability, make almost every picture in the book an iconic representation of the Jazz photo.

Herman Leonard (March 6, 1923, in Allentown, Pennsylvania – August 14, 2010, in Los Angeles, California) was an American photographer known for his unique images of jazz icons

Herman Leonard (March 6, 1923, in Allentown, Pennsylvania – August 14, 2010, in Los Angeles, California) was an American photographer known for his unique images of jazz icons. Leonard's parents, Joseph Leonard and Rose Morrison, were Romanian Jewish immigrants who emigrated from Iaşi to the United States. Leonard gained a BFA degree in photography in 1947 from Ohio University, although his college career was interrupted by a tour of duty in the .

As well as newspaper journalism, she has also written and produced documentaries for the BBC, including Comrade Rockstar, about 'the Red Elvis', which she subsequently developed into the book of the same title. Of the thousands of non-fiction books about jazz and jazz musicians, I've picked those that seem to really illuminate their subjects in an original way, and tell you something new about the music and the musicians, something new about American culture. 1. Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje.

Photographer Herman Leonard's work is featured at Jackson Fine Art - a gallery that supports fine art photography including Herman Leonard photography

Photographer Herman Leonard's work is featured at Jackson Fine Art - a gallery that supports fine art photography including Herman Leonard photography. Sonny Stitt, one bad MF. As cenas do jazz pelo fotógrafo Herman Leonard - GGN. Herman Leonard Sonny Stitt, New York City 1953.

The history of jazz is incomplete without recognizing the revered photographs of Herman Leonard. For over four decades, before mass media introduced jazz in postwar America, Leonard transfixed. Originally published in Jazz Times. The history of jazz is incomplete without recognizing the revered photographs of Herman Leonard. For over four decades, before mass media introduced jazz in postwar America, Leonard transfixed audiences with his prints: displaying a heavy and extensive use of smoke, light and shadow, using slow-speed film stock, and plenty of close-up shots of musicians playing in action (or away from their musicianship).

Hardcover; 320 pages. Jazz is billed as the definitive collection of photographer Herman Leonard's jazz photos. When record companies use ths term to promote box sets, appealing to the completist in many jazz fans, it is often not the case, and lo and behold, a few years later "newly unearthed" recordings emerge, much to the chagrin of those who shelled out first time around

Herman Leonard’s most popular book is Jazz.

Herman Leonard’s most popular book is Jazz. Showing 11 distinct works. Jazz by. Herman Leonard.

Since the 1950s, Herman Leonard's photographs of jazz musicians have been crucial in shaping the image of the music and the world in which it was created. Leonard's friendships with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis gave him rare access to the innovators who made modern jazz and the places in which they made it. Leonard took his camera into the smoky clubs and after-hours sessions, to backstage parties and musicians' apartments, to build an incomparable visual record of one of the twentieth century's most significant art forms. His luminous images of Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and many others, both in performance and "off duty," are at once supreme examples of the photographer's art and a unique record of a musical revolution. For this definitive collection of his work, Leonard has retrieved scores of previously unseen photographs, published here for the first time, alongside his most famous and widely recognized images. Accompanied by an essay exploring the stories behind the pictures, and an interview with Leonard revealing his techniques, Jazz captures and preserves the glory days of the music that has been called "the sound of surprise."

I came across a of photograph of Mr. Leonard's entitled "Duke Ellington Shoes" at the Ralph Lauren store in Manhattan. This simple, yet elegant, photograph deeply touched me. Alas, it was not for sale. In the course of tracking a copy of the photography down I found this wonderful book of Mr. Leonard's photographs. To this day black and white photography has the power convey meaning and feeling that color photograph lacks. It is somehow more intimate and personal. This is a book of intimacy. You can feel the sounds... And see the sweat. A great photographer is invisible to their subject...becomes part of the air...! This book is a roll call of the jazz greats....most all gone. It is a marvelous tribute to them and Herman Leonard!
Sadly, jazz photography is not a part of mainstream American culture today. By jazz photography, I mean photographs of jazz musicians, either playing or in other situations. Leonard's photographs are usually related to their music in some way, he also catches his subjects in other contexts. One could also speak of a jazz style of photography (whether it be of jazz itself or not) which the best jazz photographers bring to their craft. In the introduction to the book, Quincy Jones is quoted as saying, "I used to tell cats that Herman Leonard did with his camera, what we did with our instruments" (8). He was a jazz man whose instrument was the camera, and was accepted as such by the musicians he so artfully and intimately captured.

But one might argue that photography ill fits jazz, since it freezes a moment in time. There is no beat, no group improvisation, and no swing. You do not tap your foot to a photograph. That is, the musical medium of jazz may not comport with the visual medium of photography. When the medium mismatches the message, a kind of aesthetic violence is perpetrated--even when few notice.

The essence of jazz is syncopation and improvisation (usually within an ensemble, but also in solo settings) within a uniquely American tradition of the music (the origins of which are disputed in the literature). A jazz photographer faces the daunting charge of getting "into the moment" or "into the groove," to try to seize something unique, often beautiful, and evanescent. Herbert Leonard has achieved this arcane art in black and white photographs, spanning a half decade. Although he later worked a bit with color, he insightfully says, "When you are looking at a black and white picture, your brain doesn't have to work as much, You're looking at a graphic shape rather than the colour value--and in that sense, the image becomes stronger" (303). Or, as Reggie Nadelson writes in the introduction, "Many of Herman Leonard's photographs tell a complicated story; sometimes you have to look two or three times to see it all" (9) Leonard bids us to slow down, fix our gaze, and behold the scenes and souls he studied. No multitasking should be involved.

This is not landscape photography, but people photography. The subject matter is usually musicians in unique motion, making music with others (or waiting pensively backstage). The human figure bears its own mysteries, crying to be unlocked and revealed through some manner of representation. People move and surprise; jazz moves and surprises. As jazz critic Witney Balliet (who resided high in the firmament of jazz writers) famously said, "Jazz is the sound of surprise." By contrast, the photograph is static, inert. Nevertheless, the essential spirit of jazz may be hinted at or implied in the parts, even in the mute graphic representations, as Leonard himself states: "I was always impressed by the simplicity of great artists like Picasso who could take a charcoal and do a little line sketch and you'd see the whole character of the person. I thought I could do that with light" (300).

And so he did. A skilled photographer uncovers the philosopher's stone and endeavors to steal the essence (or near essence) of the whole from a fleeting part. Through film, the artist searches for the apotheosis of the form, or at least to approximate it. Few have this nascent gift or develop it into an art. Leonard did, and people noticed.

This large book is gloriously filled with images from the great performers of jazz in this sixty-year career, beginning in the late 1940s. Most of them were taken in the 1940 and 1950s. We are graced with the visages Ella Fitzgerald, many of Miles Davis, covering his entire career (what a noble face--if not character--he had), Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Dexter Gordon, and many more. One photo simply depicts Lester Young's hat atop his saxophone case, with a cigarette balanced carefully on an empty Coke bottle. Leonard understands light, figure, foreground, focus, and background brilliantly. (Few of these photographs were posed; when they were, they had nothing to do with the cheesy, corning, narcissistic posing of today.) He was especially masterful in capturing--of all things--cigarette smoke, which was ubiquitous in jazz performances of the time he records. The smoke is keenly articulated and forms a sort of nimbus on the jazz musicians. The photo of a young Dexter Gordon most effectively uses this technique (which Leonard discovered accidently), for the cover of Jazz, by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux (W.W. Norton, 2009). Leonard's camera angles are often arresting as well (there are no cliché portraits), often seizing that elusive jazz expression of pure intensity of joy and longing and pain. Although you will not likely find this in any systematic or biblical theology, this is where jazz meets general revelation.

General revelation is the doctrine that the one true, infinite, personal, and triune God of the Bible reveals truth about himself and creation in ways outside of the biblical text and specific supernatural acts. For example, "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1; see also Romans 1:18-21). And humans themselves bear the divine image (Genesis 1:26; 9:1; Psalm 8). In Cornelius Van Til's words, we are "finite replicas" of God, although fallen and far east of Eden (Romans 3:14-26). As such, even if these image bearers fail to recognize God as Creator and Redeemer, they cannot exchange their essence for something else, something of their own choosing.

One aspect of the divine image is creativity. As Dorothy Sayers wisely noted, in Genesis one, the only thing we know about God is that he is a personal Creator. If, then, he makes humans in his image, then it is logical to infer that one of their distinctive qualities would be creativity. Even the non-Christian is gifted with the ability to transcend the merely material or machine-like arrangements of the created world. As free-jazz pioneer and journeyman, Peter BrÖtzmann recently said in a biographic film called, "Soldier of the Road" (2012), "Music comes from another world." We are all creators in some way, and some develop this capacity through the rigors and ecstasies of jazz. When the jazz musician is in the flow of creative intelligence, he is, in a sense, touching something objectively real about God's creation at a deep level--and he may be manifesting that reality to those listening as well. A sense of this intrepid enterprise can be represented in black-and-white photography (and film, but that is another story).

Yet, the Christian critic may strenuously object that all of this talk is merely worldliness. As James said, part of pure religion is to "keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27; see also 1 John 2:15-17) After all, jazz had (at in least part) its beginnings in New Orleans's houses of ill-repute. So many jazz musicians have used illegal drugs and some died of drug overdoses (notably the inimitable alto saxophonist Charlie Parker at age thirty-four and the singer Billie Holiday (penniless) at age forty-four). Even more debauchery may be chronicled. All this is true--and painfully irrelevant. God is the giver of every good gift (James 1) and liberally gives gifts even to those who rebel against him. (Of course, some jazz musicians have claimed to be Christians, such as pianist Mary Lou Williams and Duke Ellington.)

Christian philosopher, scientist, and apologist Blaise Pascal helped explain this enigma of the human condition. He argued, humans are now "deposed royalty." We are great given our divine origin and image, but deposed, given the fall into sin. This is true for both Christians and non-Christians. Therefore, we are a strange mixture of good and evil, beauty and ugliness, intelligence, and stupidity. (See "Deposed Royalty," in Douglas Groothuis, On Pascal [Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003].) If one cannot hear greatness in the arrangements and playing of Duke Ellington or selected saxophone solos of John Coltrane (such as in "A Love Supreme"), one does not likely understand the medium or its meaningful mysteries. (For an approachable and learned introduction to the art form of jazz, see Why Jazz: A Concise Guide [Oxford, 2012.] On the importance of understanding higher and lower levels of culture, see Kenneth Myers, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1989].)

Jazz, a book of jazz photographs by a jazz photographer (Leonard is known for photographing nothing else), offers a double helping of common grace and reason to praise the God who made us--saved and unsaved--in his image. First, we can thank God for jazz itself, that unique, uniquely American, varied, and ever-compelling art form. (For one of the few Christian reflections on jazz, see Robert Gelinas, Finding the Groove [Zondervan, 2009].)

Second, this collection of memorable photographs of jazz musicians has its own eloquence and charm qua photography. These photographs should be beheld, not simply viewed. (I owe this distinction to Marva Dawn, which she made in Talking the Walk [Brazos, 2005].) To behold something is to let its objective reality affect one's very self. To behold demands more than giving an object a glance or a glimpse. One lingers when one beholds something, such as a fine painting, a sculpture, or a photograph. Consider the King James Version of John the Baptist's exclamation about Jesus, "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). John is not merely calling others to note that Jesus has entered their visual field. Beholding takes discipline and focus, especially since our culture is saturated by moving images, usually of little worth, but which are highly stimulating and difficult to avoid. I am only now learning to behold vintage and valuable contemporary photography as an art form; however, I know that one looks at the foreground, the background, the lighting, and the angle of vision. Further, we can ponder the people and their setting by noting facial expressions, body posture, and by imaging ourselves entering the photograph.

Jazz splendidly offers the careful observer a portal into American musical culture, and even a glimpse into the souls of musicians, made in the image of God. For that, we should be grateful to God, the divine artist.
The pictures in black and white tell a story that will sell the music mute to the ears but still resonating through the pages. The words that mirror the images help to encapsulate the tall of the musician for a brief moment. The sheer size and heft of the book to me is equal in measure to the importance Jazz has contributed to world of music...

Must recommend to a true music fan of any genre... must learn the roots in order to respect and decipher the true music of today
Amazing artistry of Herman's work does full justice to the jazz greats that were his subjects. Load up my old 78 RPM records and give me this book and I'll be set for the rest of the night.
The aphorism "a picture is worth a thousand words" is no more true than in the fabled history of jazz. The stark black-and-white photographs filled with wisps of smoke perfectly complement the "cool", artistic, and intellectual attitude jazz took in the 40s and onward. Herman Leonard's famous photographs are present in this visual history in one of jazz's most vital times.
No one captured the essence of the seminal jazz scene of the 40's and 50's better than Herman Leonard. Dizzy, Bird, Miles, Rollins, Ella, Duke, Basie, Vaughn, Billie, Dexter - they're all here in magnificent, evocative portraits. The only thing missing from this collection is the smell of the cigarette smoke and the clanking of cocktail glasses emanating from the jazz clubs. Herman Leonard,who passed away last summer, was a true American artist in his own right. We are very fortunate that he compiled this definitive collection of his jazz photography before his passing.
This was a gift for a friend who loves jazz. He was so pleased to receive this book, particularly because of Herman Leonard's outstanding photography. He was a legend in his own right.
excellent photos, artists seen in very relaxed and comfortable surrounding like seeing the people in real-life situations